Court Nixes Class Action Against Shell and Texaco

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Owners of Shell and Texaco stations failed to prove that the parent company illegally tied franchise ownership with the use of the company’s credit-card processing services, the 9th Circuit ruled.

     Rick-Mik Enterprises had filed a class-action suit, claiming that the gas station owners could pay lower credit card fees if they did not have to use the services of Equilon Enterprises LLC, which does business as Shell Oil USA.
     Judge King ruled that Rick-Mik did not prove that Equilon had market power in the relevant market. Also, credit-card processing services are not a “product,” distinct from the franchise itself.
     In addition, King ruled that the price-fixing allegations were too vague and that Rick-Mik had waived its right to address those deficiencies.
     Rick-Mik had also claimed that Equilon received kickbacks from banks, but King determined that the company did not violate antitrust law.

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